The Herman Trend Alert
March 6, 2019
Health Without Borders
In the past, we have written about telemedicine and medical tourism. Now there's another startup from StartUpHealth that is on the leading edge of thought and activity.
A great development for Chinese patients
With a burgeoning economy, many Chinese citizens can afford the highest quality medical care in the world. In 2016, over half a million Chinese citizens traveled somewhere else in the world for treatment; that number represents a five-time increase from the previous year. However, for the majority of the Chinese, traveling to other countries to work with medical specialists is simply not affordable. Now, using telehealth, Medebound is digitally connecting these Chinese patients with some the top doctors in the United States.
An entrepreneurial pharma executive
As the director of health informatics at a large pharma company, Medebound's founder Dr. Sheena Liu was frustrated. She wanted to capitalize on the telehealth technology. She wanted to connect Chinese patients and their doctors with top US physicians.
A bold move turns out well
Dr. Lui made a cold call to the Chief Strategy Officer at one of the most well-known US healthcare research companies---Castle Connolly---the company that identifies the "America's Top Doctors" and connects them with patients in need. Having made those connections for 27 years, it is also an authoritative source for identifying leading US physicians. Liu explained Medebound's concept for a second-opinion platform that has the potential for connecting countries, starting with the US and China. After explaining her telehealth vision, Castle Connolly Top Doctors' network invited Lui to make an in-person appearance to discuss how the process might work.
She did not stop there
Liu continued her campaign to ensure medical care could transcend borders. Lui's dream is now part of a 5-year, 30 billion RMB effort to build up proficiencies at the Ping An Healthcare Diagnostic Center in Shanghai, China. Launched in 2015, Medebound, is helping Chinese patients access the best medical specialists and knowledge base in the US without traveling for treatment. With exclusive access to Castle Connolly's Top Doctors, Medebound's culturally-relevant IT platform, and its strong cross-border US-China execution team, the company has become one of very few telehealth companies in the world to successfully link doctors with patients in two different major countries.
China's problem: a growing economy with lagging health
Since President Xi Jinping revealed the country's first long-term plan to improve healthcare, China's healthcare system has been in a state of transition. With the intention to provide universal healthcare for all, in 2009, China launched Healthy China 2020. Now, the country has mounted Health China 2030. Both programs undertook to strengthen healthcare innovation in China and equalize access to healthcare for urban and rural populations. And, though in recent years China has experienced enormous economic growth, health metrics have not kept up. With a centralized healthcare system, highly trained and qualified physicians are given only five to ten minutes for each outpatient visit. Obviously, this short time frame places a dangerous limit on the quality of patient care and outcomes---especially when it comes to complex conditions.
What this breakthrough means for the future
The success of this initiative linking highly respected physicians in the most affluent country in the world with citizens in the most populous country in the world will be a model for connecting healthcare providers with patients worldwide.
Special thanks to StartUp Health.
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